Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The League of Extraordinary Nobodies

No, I'm not insulting you. It's a song title. Look it up.

It's been so long since I've posted here that my shareholders are totally up in arms and random people on the street keep spitting on me as I pass them. I've never heard the words "pariah," "outcast" or "unclean" so much as I have in the last four months or so. I probably need some time to warm up before heading back into the deep end of the usual nonsense, so this post will be relatively brief. I won't spend time boring you with the details of why I haven't been keeping this place clean and evergreen (hint: videogames), so let's get down to it, boppers.

Over on his saucy Torn Signpost blog, Josh outed me for thinking of trying to start up a Chaos In the Old World league night. (Details of the league rules and how it plays out will follow here, if it actually comes together.) Why create and run a league, he asks, given that there's a potential downside of people playing against their own best interests in a given game in order to improve their overall standings within the league?

First, a word about how scoring in the game works, since it'll become important later. Players can win either by scoring the most dial advancements (a kind of experience point track, earned by fulfilling special conditions unique to each god) or by accumulating the most points (scored by placing mans to achieve area control). Victory conditions are checked at the end of each turn. If more than one player has achieved victory, dial advancements trump points, tieas on dial advancements are broken by points, and ties on points are broken by a three-round spitting contest or something. I don't remember what that last tiebreaker is because it never comes up in actual play - the point values have enough granularity that they're never that close, if they matter at all.

The winner of the league will be whomever has the most game wins, regardless of how they came by them, with ties being broken by total dial advancements and point accumulations per god. It sounds complicated, but it's really not. The takeaway here is that since game wins are more important than dial advancements or points, and since most gods aren't able to successfully win if they spend all their time messing with one specific other player, I don't foresee having to worry about the kind of "thrown game/eventual victory" scenario that Josh brought up as being detrimental to league play.

So why organize a league for CItOW?

1) Leagues are fun. Even without prize support, the narrative of underdog and reigning champion is one that has a lot of appeal to people, and the nervousness of having to defend your top doggery or struggle to rise through the ranks adds a bit more frisson to individual sessions. And that thrill can be...

2) Incentive to show up. My main motivation for running the league is to try to establish a weekly or bi-weekly night of playing Chaos, which is difficult to do if people aren't showing up with the expectation of playing the game. Not because people don't necessarily want to play it - in my experience, CItOW is second only to Battlestar Galactica for creating the most first-play converts - but because the game can only be played with four players, no more, no less. If the league never forms or collapses before being completed, I'm fine with that if we can still consistently get people together to play. I've played it hardly at all in recent months, and I'm more than happy to take on the duty of league organizer if that helps to rectify this glaring oversight.

3) Establishes a group of experienced players. As with most games that have any depth of tactics and strategy, CItOW tends to be a lot better if everyone playing it has at least a basic grasp of not only the rules but the ways that the game mechanics tend to create certain tendencies of play. When a given game isn't played very frequently, it's easy to forgot how all its parts interlock, and for a game as asymmetrical as CItOW this tendency gets aggravated quickly. You not only have to remember how your god plays, you've got to remember how the other three play as well, and there's really no viable substitute for regular play to accomplish that.

4) Excuse to say, "It's a league game, Smokey." This should be self-explanatory.


  1. My main reason to play would be #4....

  2. plz post blood bowl strats you dirty skaven.

    (Unless Matt has been playing a different John in that game. It's a pretty common name. In white case I apologize)

  3. Huh. That's something I hadn't thought about before. Maybe I'll do up a quick post on video games, boardgames, and why I haven't been posting anything here for so long.

    Not sure about posting any strategies for Blood Bowl, though, especially for Skaven - I almost always get spanked when I play them.